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What the hell is a sock account?

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The internet is a battlefield of sorts where there are people who are trying to get #1 rankings, views, "likes," "upvotes," subscribers and so on...

...and sometimes they cheat to do it. If you've ever seen someone's fan page/YouTube channel/Reddit article/whatever skyrocket in numbers in a very short period of time for seemingly no reason at all (as in barely anyone is commenting/sharing/"liking"/etc.), chances are pretty good that douche bag is using sock accounts to artificially inflate his numbers. In other words, cheating.

Cheating for high numbers happens a lot, but it's much tougher to get away with these days. But before I get into that, a sock account means a web account where you use it as a false identity. The name derives from sockpuppet (where you put your hand in a sock and draw a face on the sock's toe area to use it puppet-style); even though you're the one controlling the sock, the sock is meant to be a character, as in fake, as in not real, hence sock account.

Example: You establish a new Facebook fan page, so it has zero "likes." A cheater instead of earning the likes properly will instead sign up 100 different fake Facebook accounts and then "like" his own page 100 times, giving the appearance of getting off to a good start, but in reality the "likes" are all fake; those 100 fake Facebook profiles are all sock accounts.

Sock accounts are used either to inflate numbers or give the appearance that people are talking about certain things in order to trick people into thinking something is interesting. One who is skilled in the art of sock accounts can have a "conversation" that appears to be involving 5 people, when in reality it's all the same guy using 5 different accounts.

Those who are really good at using sock accounts create a fake argument online and draw people in from the drama. I will admit that that takes some skill to pull off.

Why does anyone even bother with sock accounts?

Some people do it just because they like seeing how many people they can fool, and the rest all do it for one reason: Money.

The more interest you can generate in anything, the more opportunity you have to sell stuff because when you've got a bunch of people watching, reading and participating, all of them can be potential customers you can hock products to.

I've personally never used sock accounts, but there are thousands of those who do every day (including corporations.) There are some out there with many thousands of different sock accounts, all ready-to-use for whatever reason. I'm not one of those people.

I don't play the sock account game because the risk is just too great. That and the fact online advertising costs a lot less now. I see no reason to spend hours, days, weeks or months creating sock accounts when I can just flip over a few bucks, advertise properly, get the views/likes/whatever and go about my business.

On a final note, part of the reason YouTube and Facebook started getting really strict with new signups (like cell phone validation via SMS message,) is because of people creating so many tens of thousands of sock accounts. One who would want to create sock accounts on those systems these days has a lot tougher time going about it, which is another reason why it's pretty much pointless to even bother with it.

Published 2013 Mar 12

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